THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: Burberry (the burning), H&M (new conscious collection; garment-to-garment recycling system in Hong Kong; Global Change Award), Nike (the ad), Tom Ford (no crocodile leather), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Why social insurance should be a key concern for companies sourcing from China

  • Rethinking fashion (12 new start-ups

  • Few workers in Uzbek cotton fields

  • Free online sustainable fashion course

  • London Fashion Week says no to fur

  • Fashion ready to say goodbye to fur?

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: a lot of stories on wages (tanneries, wage hike, planned strike over wages); changes to labour law

  • Cambodia: labour confederation proposes $211 monthly minimum for 2019

  • India: factory fire; child workers rescued

  • Jordan: plea to pay Bangladesh workers more; female refugees from Syria still struggling

  • USA: LA garment factories cited for labour law violations

Manufacturers in this issue include: Atlantic Leather (fish skin); Bolt Threads (a mushroom tote), Huntsman Textile Effects (redefining polyester dyeing) and more.

Quotes of the week:

  •  “[If Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign] were anything other than a cynical branding exercise, the company would surely not be simultaneously doing business with the NFL, which has done its best to stifle Kaepernick’s protest movement.” Joshua Hunt (05 Sep).

  • “This is Nike. Asking them to be a voice for social justice is like asking a dog to meow.” Dave Zirin on Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad (04 Sep).

  • “[G]lobal, multibillion-dollar corporations that run an archipelago of sweatshops don’t underwrite rebellions. They co-opt and quash them.” Dave Zirin on Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad (04 Sep).

By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Children’s clothing company admits selling garments with incorrect fire warning tags, if any at all: “[Goodwear Limited, a] New Zealand children’s clothing company that imports items from China has pled guilty to selling clothes that didn't have correct fire warnings - if any warning at all” (10 Sep).

H&M debuts conscious exclusive collection: ““There’s a wonderful range of sustainable fabrics in this collection, like recycled cashmere, the new velvet made from recycled polyester as well as the use of leftover ECONYL® from the previous collection”” (10 Sep).

Blazing a trail: what’s up with Burberry’s decision to stop burning clothes? “Fast Forward two months and Burberry has just announced it will stop destroying unsold items immediately. So, what’s the deal with Burberry? What’s behind this sudden move and how ethical is the company as a whole?” (07 Sep). [Ed’s note: from Good On You ethical fashion app, which rates Burberry 3/5 (“It’s a Start”).]

Burberry won’t burn unsold goods anymore, but what about brands that didn’t get caught? “Now the company has announced it will stop destroying old unsold stock immediately. … To really have an impact though, the whole rest of the fashion industry would need to follow along” (07 Sep).

People are getting tired of being told to boycott Nike and other favorite brands: ““Between 1990 and 2007, only 213 boycotts were mentioned in the six largest US newspapers; by contrast, in the 200 or so days of its existence, the anti-Trump #GrabYourWallet campaign alone has launched boycotts against over 50 companies”” (07 Sep).

Vegan designer Tom Ford launches cruelty-free crocodile leather at New York Fashion Week: “The move away from crocodile skin shines a light on the cruel practice of exotic skin procurement, which can mirror the fur trade in its treatment of animals for their skins or coats” (07 Sep).

Nike called out for low wages in Asia amid Colin Kaepernick ad promotion: “As international attention has focused on Colin Kaepernick’s Nike ad, activists and many on social media have pointed to the well-documented low wages, long hours and poor working conditions many who make the global corporation’s products endure” (06 Sep).

H&M opens hydrothermal recycling facilities: “[Last] week, the nonprofit H&M Foundation and the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) opened two first-of-their-kind textile recycling facilities in Hong Kong, where HKRITA’s breakthrough hydrothermal recycling technology will for the first time be put into practice at scale, and a miniaturized Garment-To-Garment Recycling System is opened for the public” (05 Sep).

H&M Foundation opens fourth round of its annual Global Change Award textile innovation challenge: “The H&M Foundation has opened the fourth round of its annual Global Change Award textile innovation challenge, which provides €1 million in funding and yearlong coaching to innovators who come up with solutions to spark the shift towards a circular fashion industry” (06 Sep).

Colin Kaepernick, Nike, and the myth of good and bad companies: “Nike has often been on the wrong side of social-justice movements, and in the past used its considerable power and influence to crush any protest movement that undermined the company’s bottom line” (05 Sep).

NEWS & REPORTS

Why social insurance should be a key concern to companies sourcing from China: “It has been reliably estimated that less than a third of China’s workforce of 770 million have a basic pension and only half are enrolled in any kind of insurance scheme” (10 Sep). [Ed’s note: written by Sheila Wong of Inno, which runs a grievance hotline for workers.]

Rethinking the business of fashion with 12 new start-ups: &Wider, Algalife, The Excess Materials Exchange (EME), GIBBON, Green Whisper, NOWNER, Reflaunt, reGAIN app, Save Your Wardrobe, Stuffstr, TrusTrace and The Vienna Textile Lab (10 Sep).

Fewer workers forced to prepare Uzbek cotton fields: “For the first time in years, large numbers of public-sector employees were not forced to carry out spring fieldwork in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields, although instances of child labor and forced labor were documented, according to a new report by the Uzbek-German Forum (UGF)” (10 Sep).

Climate and Supply Chain: The Business Case for Action: “Climate change affects each and every human around the globe, with profound implications for social justice and human rights. Health-related stresses, competition for natural resources, and the impacts on livelihoods, hunger, and migration warrant immediate global action” (10 Sep). [Ed’s note: a new report from BSR.]

Living wages in global supply chains – don’t ask whether to achieve them or not, ask how! “Fair wages provide a decent living to their earners; therefore, they are commonly called ‘living wages’ in the terminology of labour law. That being said, the concrete definition of such wages often distracts from the actual problem: a wage must first and foremost guarantee a proper livelihood to the person that receives it. Hence, the decisive question is the following: how and by what means can the world community achieve this goal in practice?” (10 Sep).

Free online sustainable fashion course – Fashion and Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World: “This free online course “Fashion and Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World” is aimed at people working in fashion or who have a general interest in sustainability and ethical fashion and are keen to make positive changes in the fashion industry” (09 Sep).

Fashion’s dirty little secret and how it’s coming clean: “Who in their right mind would send almost $40 million worth of perfectly good merchandise up in smoke? Earlier this year, it was revealed that British luxury fashion house Burberry had been incinerating unsold stock as a way of preserving product scarcity and brand exclusivity” (09 Sep).

London Fashion Week vows to be fur-free: “British Fashion Council says LFW in September will be first of big fashion weeks to ditch animal fur” (07 Sep).

Fashion might finally be ready to say goodbye to fur: “It’s hard to imagine a fashion industry without fur. Fur connotes luxury, status, expense. It adds a premium to an item, something brands are quick to jump on in an era of declining sales. And yet, there seems to be change afoot in the fashion industry” (07 Sep).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh

RMG factory owners want govt benefits for workers’ wage hike: “Garment factory owners on Sunday said that the government must give them tax or cash incentives as the wage of the workers would be raised” (10 Sep).

Tannery workers’ minimum wages not implemented: “Labour leaders said Wednesday that not a single tannery factory owner implemented the new wage structure for their workers though the government announced it six months back. They said that the tannery factory owners taking the advantage of getting the service of workers without issuing appointment letters and identity cards to 80 per cent workers in gross violation of the labour law” (08 Sep).

Bangladesh garment employees demand reinstatement: “Up to 5,000 garment workers in Dhaka protested on August 30 to demand reinstatement of sacked fellow employees [at Top Jeans Factory]. The workers, who were from garment factories from across the city, blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Uttara, a Dhaka suburb” (08 Sep).

Labour bodies oppose abolition of group insurance: “As per the proposed amendments, hundred per cent export-oriented industrial sector for which central fund has been established would be exempted from group insurance for its workers and the deceased and injured workers in the sector would receive amount equivalent to group insurance from the central fund” (08 Sep). [Ed’s note: this is issue is related to the Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill 2018.]

Garment workers plan strike in October for wage hike: “Garments Sramik Adhikar Andolan, a platform of 12 garment workers’ organisations, on Friday declared that they would go for strike and other tougher programmes in October if the government failed to declare new minimum wage structure for garment workers by September” (08 Sep).

EC team to assess Bangladesh labour rights situation: “A high-powered delegation of European Commission will arrive in Bangladesh on September 11 to assess human rights and labour rights situation in workplace, which is essential for the country to remain eligible for the EBA [everything but arms] regime in the European market” (07 Sep).

Bangladesh labor law changes planned: “Broad approval but loopholes criticized amid implementation concerns … Maximum fines include 5,000 taka (US$59) for illegally employing a child and 25,000 taka [$298] for failing to provide paid maternity leave” (06 Sep).

A positive turn in the labour law: “The easing of trade union rules is a positive step that indicates the government's intention to improve working conditions of factory workers. The draft of the Bangladesh (Amendment) Act 2018, long overdue, has reduced the required participation of workers to form a trade union to 20 percent from 30 percent” (05 Sep).

Cambodia

Pregnant garment worker firing fake news: Labour department: “The Svay Rieng provincial labour department yesterday denied allegations made by a union website accusing You Li International of sacking an underage pregnant garment worker” (06 Sep).

CLC proposes $211 as minimum garment worker wage: “The Cambodian Labour Confederation yesterday said that it will propose $211.94 to be the new minimum wage for garment workers during this month’s negotiations” (06 Sep).

India

Fire breaks out at Noida garment factory, no casualty: Although not confirmed, it is thought a heat gun started the fire (06 Sep).

13 kids saved from Okhla hellhole: Children aged between 9 and 14 were starved and beaten in a garment factory in New Delhi engaged in embroidery work (06 Sep).

Jordan

Overseas employers asked to increase wages of garment workers from Bangladesh: “Overseas employers have been asked to offer higher wages if they were serious about recruiting skilled apparel workers from Bangladesh” (10 Sep).

Syrian refugee women still struggle to access employment – report: “Despite training programmes like Oxfam’s seamstress project, women still face various cultural, societal and economic barriers which remain hard to overcome” (06 Sep).

United States of America

Downtown LA garment factories cited for labour law violations: “Six factories that allegedly were operating under one contractor’s license will have to pay $573,704 in fines for various violations cited by the state Department of Industrial Relations … Those named in the investigation were: Cindy Soon Yun, Sun Park, Pil Chang, Francisco Tecum Son, Union Supply Inc., and Pure Cotton Inc.” (07 – 13 Sep).

MANUFACTURERS

Forget leather, the future of fashion is all about fish skin: “Top quality leather is scarce. Luxury brands are finding fishy alternatives” (10 Sep). [Ed’s note: article is about Atlantic Leather, in Finland.]

Huntsman Textile Effects redefines dyeing of polyester including microfiber and blends with Univadine® e3-3d diffusion accelerant: “Huntsman Textile Effects introduces Univadine® E3-3D next-generation diffusion accelerant to help mills achieve high-performance dyeing of polyester, microfibers and blends in an environment-friendly way that complies with current and anticipated industry sustainability standards” (07 Sep).

This $400 tote is made of mushrooms, not leather: “Bolt Threads has launched its first commercialized Mylo tote, made using mycelium, the root structure of a mushroom” (08 Sep).  [Ed’s note: Interview with Jaimie Bainbridge, vice president of product development at Bolt Threads.]

10 Sustainable textile innovations everyone should know: Making textiles from hemp, lotus, stinging nettles, apples, pineapple, mushrooms, coffee, bananas, kapok, kelp and squid genes (07 Sep).

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

12 September, webinar: SDG Leadership Forum for Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production: “As part of our ongoing series of online dialogues, the SDG Leadership Forum for Goal 12 … offers an opportunity to explore how we can accelerate our transition to a circular economy” (co-hosted by C&A Foundation).

14 – 15 September, Lüneburg, Germany: C2C Congress 2018: Special track: Fashion and Textiles.

19 September, San Bruno, California: Impact Sourcing – Economic Inclusion through Procurement: “Leading companies are no longer just approaching sustainable procurement to mitigate risk. They are maximizing opportunities and generating business benefits and lasting social impacts.”

20 September, Adelaide, South Australia: Redress Design Award Fashion Academy: “A free-to-attend sustainable fashion event for students, emerging designers and educators.”

20 – 25 September, Milan: Fashion Film Festival Milano: For the 2018 edition a particular invite is extended to the representatives of Sustainable Fashion: A roundtable, a European preview and a new category, “Best Green Fashion Film.”

26 September, Amsterdam: Unpack Impact: “Four successful impact enterprises [circular fashion] will be unpacked.”

26 – 29 September, Koudougou, Burkina Faso: 4 days focussing on organic and Fairtrade cotton in West Africa.  International Cotton & Textile Conference (SICOT).

27 – 28 September, Raleigh, US: 2018 Footwear Materials and Innovation Summit: “[F]ocused on helping professionals better understand current and emerging materials and material developments at an in-depth technical level.”

29 September, Washington DC: Unveiling Fashion: Conversations about Fashion and Sustainability: Keynote speaker: Lauren Fey, Fashion Revolution USA, and many more.

31 October – 01 November, London: Responsible Supply Chains: The future of trade: “[The] event will include analysis of key sustainability trends, the future of business models and leadership and explore new models of collaboration.”

01 – 02 October, Toronto: Wear Conference: “WEAR [provides a] forum to share examples of both local and global leadership, best practices and innovative solutions with the North American apparel and textile industry.”

09 – 10 October, Maastricht, the Netherlands: 34th IAF World Fashion Convention: With a theme this year of “Building a Smart Future for Fashion”, the Convention will “will show many inspiring examples of a smarter apparel supply chain.” 

10 – 11 October, London: 13th Responsible Supply Chain Summit Europe: “Focus on the emerging technologies, innovations and collaborations critical to sustainable, cost-effective supply chain strategies.”

11 – 12 October, Kilkenny, Ireland: Global Forum on Responsible Leather. Hosted by TextileExchange Responsible Leather Roundtable.

15 – 17 October, Shanghai: Yarn Expo Autumn: “Sustainable sources of specialty yarns, fancy yarns and chemical fibres will be the focus at this year’s Autumn Edition.”

18 – 19 October, Milan: 5th Bluesign Conference: “TraceAbility. NetworkAbility. TransformAbility. Stitching the blue way together … gathering of all the Bluesign system partners and broader sustainability community for an opportunity to exchange ideas.”

* 22 October: Short Course (Free): Fashion & Sustainability: Understanding Luxury in a Changing World: “Get an introduction to issues, agendas and contexts relating to fashion and sustainability in a changing world.”

22 – 24 October, Milan: 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference: United by Action: Accelerating Sustainability in Textiles & Fashion: Textile Exchange’s 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference. (See agenda update here.)

23 – 26 October, Louisville, Kentucky: 2018 EHS & Sustainability Management Forum: “This year's EHS and Sustainability Management Forum will offer five tracks, a focus on EHS&S Business Strategy, Leadership and EHS&S Tools.”

25 – 26 October, Lisbon: Sustainable Retail Summit: Hosted by the Consumer Goods Forum – “Topics on the agenda include plastic waste, migrant labour, consumer health, food waste and transparency.”

31 October – 01 November, London: ‘What’s Going On? A Discourse on Fashion, Design and Sustainability’: “The Global Fashion Conference is a bi-annual international conference, which aims to contribute to a multidisciplinary approach to fashion studies and brings together academia and industry, promoting a more sustainable model of development.”

06 – 08 November, NYC: A New Blueprint for Business: “[An] increasingly complex environment requires a new blueprint for business, with resilient strategies, effective governance models, and new management approaches.” BSR’s annual conference.

13 – 14 November, Los Angeles: Remode: The premier event for disruptive and sustainable fashion: “[H]ear from fashion’s leading innovators, gain access to a collaborative network of relevant people and resources, and leave with an actionable plan for innovation and growth.”

13 – 14 November, San Diego: 2nd Responsible Business Summit West: “It is imperative to advance ethical leadership in today's age of digital disruption. Failure to do so will result in loss of customer trust, shareholder value and ultimately, profits.” Hosted by Ethical Corporation.

15 November, London: Leather & Sustainability in Retail Conference 2018: “Join BLC, ILM and leather industry professionals at this year’s half-day leather sustainability conference which covers sustainability and innovation around raw materials for leather, uses for waste materials within the leather value chain and circular economy. The conference will also be considering new materials coming to market and look at transparency and traceability of production within existing processes.”

16 – 17 January 2019, Delhi: International Workshop Agreement for the screening of GMOs in cotton and textiles: “The IWA is about a protocol for GMO screening in cotton and textiles.”

24 January 2019, London: 8th Future Fabrics Expo: “Source from 5000+ fabrics, yarns, leathers, trims with a reduced environmental impact from over 150 mills and suppliers.”

(Photo Tim HillCCO)

Disclaimer: The Fashion Sustainability Week in Review (FSWIR) is a twice-weekly roundup of sustainability news items relevant to the fashion, apparel, textile and related industries. The views and opinions expressed in the FSWIR by individual authors and/or media outlets cited do not necessarily reflect the position of GoBlu International or any individual associated with the company.

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